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Fresh Push To Eliminate Trans Fatty Acids In East Africa Launched


Stakeholders have launched a fresh push to advocate for the adoption of regulatory mechanisms to eliminate industrially produced trans fatty acids in food products in East Africa.

Industrially produced trans-fatty acids are manufactured fats created during a process called hydrogenation some however occur naturally and are found in animals.

Institute of Legislative Affairs CEO Celine Awuor says that the fresh push follows the growing concern on the number of industrially produced trans fatty acids that are deemed harmful to consumers.

“Many manufacturers have defended their production of trans fatty acids to the improvement of the taste of foods and also increasing the shelf life of the said food products,” said Awuor.

Reports already indicate that trans-fatty acids are directly connected to cardiovascular diseases which are the world’s number one killer.

“Trans-fatty acids are harmful because they affect blood flow by blocking the artery causing a major and significant risk to the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases,” said Awuor.

WHO recommends that countries ban totally trans fatty acids or limit to a maximum of 2 percent of trans fatty acids on foods.

The goal of WHO is that by 2023, the world should have eliminated industrially produced trans fatty acids from the food supply.

Kenya has had discussions and attempts at regulations on trans fatty acids for a long time following the gazettement of a legal notice that was gazetted in 2015.

“The challenge is that this legal notice has some gaps that is making it not effective and therefore not serving the purpose of eliminating trans fatty acids,” said Awuor.

Examples of foods that have trans-fatty acids include baked foods such as cakes, cookies and biscuits, fried foods and stick margarine.

Elinami Mungure  of Global Health Advocacy Incubators says that they are working with partners in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to do research in a bid to get a scientific reason behind the agenda.

Mungure says that a collective push by East African Countries to eliminate trans fatty acids will help make a bigger impact.

“If we do it in one single country, there will be chances for products produced in one of the member states smuggled to the next. The second one is the multiplying impact. If we approach it regionally, that means all the six member states will ban it,” said Mungure.